17 Free Things To Do In London
17 Free Things To Do In London

17 Free Things To Do In London

London is an expensive city, but there are some fun things to do for free – including lesser-known museums and beautiful, secret gardens. Here are our favourites…
By Sherri Andrew
Barbican Conservatory
Barbican Conservatory


Best For A Rainy Day:

Barbican Conservatory

With more than 2,000 species of exotic plants and trees, the Barbican Conservatory is a great way to spend an afternoon. As well as tree ferns, date palms, and banana and ginger plants, there’s also a large collection of succulents and spiky cacti to see. Don’t miss the koi carp and terrapins in the ponds. You can also stop by Barbican Centre below to see an exhibition, a number of which are free to view every month.

Open from 12-5pm on selected days; Silk Street, Barbican, EC2Y 8DS

Visit Barbican.org.uk

BFI Mediatheque

The BFI’s extensive archive is available to explore for free. There are over 90,000 titles to choose from, including rare 1920s motion pictures and 90s blockbusters. Settle down in one of the booths and touch the screen to start watching different clips or films – you can even sit in a sharing booth for your own private cinema experience with friends. Our pick of what to watch? 2017 drama Father of Man, a moving story about complex relationship between father and son. 

Open Tuesday to Sunday 11am-9pm; 21 Stephen Street, South Bank, W1T 1LN

Visit BFI.org.uk

Sir John Soane’s Museum

This museum houses the private collection of Sir John Soane, the famous 19th-century architect. There are regular exhibitions every month which celebrate some of the world’s best architecture and design. Upcoming events include a free family workshop on creating slogan t-shirts on Saturday 12th March and an Easter egg crafting workshop on Wednesday 6th April.

Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am-5pm; 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, Holborn, WC2A 3BP

Visit Soane.org

Anya Hindmarch Village 

This charming boutique complex houses all things Anya Hindmarch. Having opened last spring, you can now spend a couple of hours looking at Anya’s creations. Stop at The Plastic Shop to see her sustainable collection made from recycled plastic bottles, go to The Bespoke Shop to see London’s first Anya Hindmarch store, and stop off at the chic Anya Café for a hot drink.

Open daily from 10am -6pm; 11 Pont Street, Belgravia, SW1X 9EH

Visit AnyaHindmarch.com

Best For A Fun Date:

Sky Garden

London’s highest public garden releases free tickets every Monday for different slots throughout the week. Visitors can take in 360-degree views of London while exploring lush greenery and landscaped gardens full of drought-resistant Mediterranean and South African plants. Visitors can sit in observation decks or appreciate the views from the open-air terrace. If you want refreshments, there are two restaurants and a cool bar with seating pods.

Open from 10am-6pm on weekdays, and 11am-9pm on weekends; 1 Sky Garden Walk, Monument, EC3M 8AF

Visit Skygarden.London

Queen Elizabeth Roof Garden

Once the weather warms up, visit the Queen Elizabeth Roof Garden at the Southbank Centre to see London’s skyline in all its glory. Located on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the garden is home to over 200 wild native plants and a luscious lawn. You can sit inside to make use of the free WiFi or curl up on the sofas with a book. There’s also a café and a bar if you want to park up for few hours.

Open daily from 12-8pm; Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX

Visit SouthBankCentre.co.uk

Science Museum Lates

Every last Wednesday of the month, London’s Science Museum hosts adult-only after-hours nights. From silent discos and pub quizzes to exclusive exhibitions and talks from big names in the world of science, there’s plenty happening – and there’s a different theme each month, from sex to climate change, big data to childhood. General admission tickets are free, and timeslots start from 6.45pm – but if you want to see the ‘WonderLab’ gallery, tickets do cost £5.

Exhibition Road, South Kensington, SW7 2DD

Visit ScienceMuseum.org.uk

The Line Walk

As the capital’s first dedicated public art walk, this trail runs between Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the O2, taking about two and a half hours to complete. Start at the ArcelorMittal Orbit in Stratford, the famous sculpture from the 2012 Olympic games, and follow the route which passes a range of famous artistic landmarks, including works by Thomas J Price, Joanna Rajkowska and Larry Achiampong. The trail ends in North Greenwich at A Bullet from a Shooting Star (a sculpture of an upside-down electricity pylon).

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, 5 Thornton Street, Stratford, E20 2AD

Visit The-Line.org

Sky Garden
Sky Garden
Somerset House
Somerset House


Best For History Buffs:

The Wellcome Collection

Dubbed ‘the free museum and library for the incurably curious’, The Wellcome Collection is an unconventional space. As a 19th-century pharmacist who was passionate about medicine, Sir Henry Wellcome collected all manner of things, and this venue is his legacy. As well as the permanent exhibitions, the building is home to temporary exhibition spaces, a café and restaurant, library and shop, but it’s the reading room that’s the star of the show. A beautifully calm and relaxing space, it’s the perfect place to take a good book on a rainy day. 

Open daily from 10am-6pm; 183 Euston Road, King’s Cross, NW1 2BE

Visit WellcomeCollection.org

The Ceremony Of The Keys At The Tower Of London

You have to pay for entry to the Tower of London during the day, but in the evening, visitors can meet the Yeoman Warder at the gates to watch this 700-year-old tradition. During the ceremony of the keys, a soldier cries out, “Halt, who comes there?”, to which the Yeoman replies, “The keys… Queen Elizabeth's keys.” The ceremony has taken place every night since medieval times, and today it includes a short outdoor tour of the tower. Fun for history buffs.

Daily at 9.30pm; West Gate, Tower of London, EC3N 4AB

Visit HRP.org.uk

Artists Houses Walking Tours

Every Thursday and Sunday at 11am, visitors can gain access to a unique group of Victorian studio-houses on Holland Park Road and Melbury Road, known as the 'Holland Park Circle'. During the guided tour, you’ll learn about the area’s rich history and what connects the houses to each other, including a number of artists like Val Prinsep, G F Watts, and Luke Fildes, who used to live in the area.

Holland Park, W8 6LU

Visit RBKC.gov.uk

Jubilee Walkway

If you’re in the mood for a longer walk, head out on the Jubilee Walkway route which passes some of London’s most famous landmarks, including City Hall, the Houses of Parliament, St Paul's Cathedral and Trafalgar Square. Look out for gold discs throughout, which signpost the path and mark historical events from the last century. It takes around five hours to complete, so make sure you bring sensible shoes.

Visit TFL.gov.uk

Somerset House Tour

Book a guided tour of Somerset House to learn about the building’s past and London’s history through the ages, from Tudor times through to the Georgian Enlightenment. There are several different tours on offer, including ‘The Old Palace Tour’ where you’ll learn about three Catholic queens who lived in Somerset House over the centuries, and the ‘Historical Highlight Tour’ where visitors can hear about different medieval traditions.

Various times; Strand, WC2R 1LA

Visit SomersetHouse.org.uk/Tours


Best For Kids:

Peter Harrison Planetarium

Perched at the top of the hill in Greenwich Park, the Peter Harrison Planetarium is part of the Royal Observatory. Here, visitors can watch planetarium shows and take part in astronomy courses, while little ones can enjoy kid-friendly science sessions. Don’t miss the Endeavour Room on the top floor to browse the special astronomy archives. 

Open daily from 10am-5pm; Blackheath Avenue, Greenwich, SE10 8XJ

Visit RMG.co.uk

Free Walking Tours

Did you know there are several free walking tours you can book in the capital? Strawberry Tours operate some of the best themed ones, including a Jack the Ripper tour, an East London landmark tour, and a street art and graffiti tour. You can also join walks which pass landmarks inspired by or featured in fictional worlds, like Harry Potter, James Bond and Sherlock Holmes. 

Visit StrawberryTours.com

Kyoto Garden At Holland Park

Be transported to a beautiful Japanese garden right here in the capital. Kyoto Garden in Holland Park is one of the few spaces in London where you can see a range of native Japanese plants and flowers, as well as koi carp in the pond. There are stone lanterns, beautiful maple trees, and even peacocks wandering around. The spring months are a particularly good time to visit, when the flora blooms into colour.

Ilchester Place, Holland Park, W8 6LU

Visit RBKC.gov.uk

Crystal Palace Park Maze

Ideal for a day out with the kids, Crystal Palace Park is home to an historic maze. Originally constructed in 1870, the maze now features towering hedgerows and a complicated network of pathways. Once you’ve made it to the exit, visit ‘Dinosaur Court’ to see the famous prehistoric sculptures, then make a beeline for Park Farm where little ones can feed the animals.

Thicket Road, Crystal Palace, SE19 2GA

Visit CrystalPalaceParkTrust.org

Crystal Palace Park Maze
Crystal Palace Park Maze
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